Laura and I had taken the Amtrak Cascades from Mount Vernon to Vancouver for a day trip. We spent most of (actually, all of) our day in Vancouver at the Telus Science Museum. It was now time to head back home. Since I had already described the particulars of the trip in Part 1, I’ll focus mostly on photography in this post.
Our train was scheduled to pull out at 5:54. We got to Pacific Station early (surprise) and wandered around the building. It was a classic station, with wooden benches, a few vendors, and some classic architectural touches.
There was a row of empty phone booths. We thought they had been left as a classic reminder until we found two more that actually had phones.
We were allowed to board the train an hour early for our return trip so we headed on out to the platform. It turns out that the train we were boarding was the exact same one on which we had arrived. It never left. It wouldn’t turn around, either, but simply reverse course. There may have been another engine on the other end, but I wasn’t convinced.
This train only had five cars. There were two engines at either end (if, in fact, the one at the tail end WAS actually an engine), two passenger cars, and an observation/bistro car in the middle. Our seats were in the same car as the trip out, but now we were at the front of the train. We had both gotten a touch of motion sickness on the way out and were hoping that being at the front would help. Once again we were on the shore side of the train. Excellent.
Once the train was under way I wandered down to the observation car. The views were certainly better with all of the windows, but with the late sunlight coming in it was like sitting in a greenhouse. From a photography standpoint it would have been a disaster. The windows were filthy.
I headed on downstairs and got us a bottle of Chardonney with cheese and crackers.
The trip out of Vancouver took longer than the trip in. We sat for long stretches as we awaited clearance to jump onto the main railroad line. When we did move it was quite slowly. I had time to contemplate the graffiti I saw along the way. Some of it looked more artistic than gang-like, but there was clearly gang activity in the area.
This was the Golden Hour. Sunlight slanted and shadows stretched. It was hard to resist taking photos constantly.
We were back out on the farms and flats between Vancouver and White Rock. Mount Baker gleamed in the distance. The tide had come in since our last passing.
As we approached the bluff above White Rock I could see dramatic houses overlooking English Bay. This was some high-priced real estate. Along the coast people were enjoying the late afternoon/evening and scrambling over the rocks below the rails. There was even one guy that opted for the nudist lifestyle. I really didn’t need to see that.
The crowds picked up as we approached the town. I missed it on the way up, but we passed by the eponymous white rock.
We pass through through more rural area reached Bellingham and a brief stop at the Fairhaven Station. As the sun sank lower the shadows deepened across the Chuckanut vistas. I was taking a TON of photos.
We rolled into Skagit Station at Mount Vernon at about 8:30. We were the only passengers to get off.
It was a great trip and I’m glad we took the train to Vancouver. I would love to explore more of the city, and maybe we can do that soon. I wouldn’t mind taking more train trips, either.
Here’s the route for our trek.
I also did a video of the trek in Google Earth.
I kept wondering what it would be like to be a conductor. You get to wear a cool hat (and I’m very glad that they still wear those hats) and you get to ride trains all day. What’s not to like? I’m sure there are some real ornery passengers on occasion and some real headaches, but it seems fun. I’m guessing it would be very much like being a flight attendant.
Heck, I might have to give it a try someday. After all, I’ve already been a choral conductor. Why not a train conductor?